ESPN’s Chad Ford, no matter how you feel about his talent evaluation, is an NBA draft pundit who definitely has his ear to the ground when it comes to NBA team intel. As with the NFL draft, there is always misinformation being intentionally leaked by teams to manipulate the actions of others, so as always, take this with a grain of salt.
The Bobcats will likely decide between Kentucky’s Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Kansas’ Thomas Robinson at No. 2. Bradley Beal, Andre Drummond and Harrison Barnes are all in the mix there, but it seems like Kidd-Gilchrist and Robinson are the two top guys on the board.
However, another option might be for the Bobcats to go ahead and trade the pick in an effort to get more assets. The No. 2 pick, whoever it is, isn’t going to turn around the franchise next season. What the Bobcats need is depth.
Two teams to look at are Cleveland and Portland. Both would love to get up to the No. 2 pick. The Cavs would love to get their hands on Kidd-Gilchrist or Beal. The Blazers are also high on Beal.
If the Cavs offered the No. 4 and No. 24 picks, would that be enough for the Bobcats to pull the trigger? If Robinson is their target, yes. If Kidd-Gilchrist is? He’s probably not on the board at No. 4.
The Blazers have the sixth and 11th picks. That’s a steep price to pay to move up four spots in the draft, but if they’re convinced they don’t love a player at No. 6, it might be worth it to them.
Should the Cavaliers not succeed in getting up to #2, and the Wizards being set on taking either MKG or Beal, Ford says the Cavs’ pick might be Barnes, but Jeremy Lamb is a real possibility as well:
The Cavaliers were really hoping to get either Kidd-Gilchrist or Beal out of this draft. Given our current mock, both players are off the board. We currently have the Cavs grabbing Harrison Barnes at No. 4. The Cavs actually were hoping that Barnes was going to be in the draft last year and sources say they would’ve grabbed him at No. 4. Do they still love him after a disappointing sophomore season? Are they willing to roll the dice on Drummond instead? I hear Jeremy Lamb isn’t out of the question here, either.
One final interesting note from Ford, and this one shows how Kyrie Irving is already changing the culture and perception of basketball in Cleveland:
NBA agents are becoming less concerned with how high their clients get drafted and much more concerned about fit and franchise stability. Two teams in particular may have a tough time getting in top talent prior to the draft. GMs see Cleveland, Washington, Portland and Golden State as preferable destinations at the top of the draft. They are scared to death of both Charlotte and Sacramento right now.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the Bobcats and Kings struggle to get every player they want to workout into their gym.
A year ago, there’s no way Cleveland is viewed in the same light as Portland as preferable destinations. This just further demonstrates the impact Kyrie Irving is making in Cleveland. Agents would be extremely happy to have their clients drafted by the Cavaliers and able to pair up with a playmaking PG like Irving. It’s amazing the roller coaster ride this Cavaliers franchise has been on over the last decade.
Ford’s entire article is a nice read full of a lot of interesting tidbits about the lottery teams.
The bottom line in all of this for the Cavaliers is that the Bobcats are going to be the team who set the tone for this draft. As much as many, if not most1, pundits feel that MKG is the 2nd best pick in this draft, all that matters is what the Bobcats decide they want. They know Cleveland wants MKG, and they know they need assets, so a trade with Cleveland makes sense. But not if they intend to overplay their hand.
Cleveland isn’t going to overpay by too much for that #2 pick, not when they know they can take Barnes or Lamb at #4 and fill a severe need. Sure, neither Barnes nor Lamb have the potential that MKG does, but is that gap big enough to warrant giving up more than the #4 and #24 picks for? Not likely.
Expect many more twists, turns, rumors, and leaks between now and the draft, but at least for now in this initial phase, we have some idea of where Cleveland’s head is at. Or at least where they want everyone to think their head is.
a lot of pundits do like Drummond as a prospect enough to make him the #2 player on their board [↩]